Sailing the East Coast of Australia Part 3

Gloucester Passage to Cairns

Gloucester Passage

Gloucester Passage is located in the north of the Whitsunday Islands and the actual passage is between Gloucester Island and the mainland. On the mainland there are Monte’s Resort and Cape Gloucester Eco Resort.

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(Sunset over Passage Isle, commonly known as Shag Islet)

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(The beach in front of Monte’s Resort and Gloucester Island)

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(Chart showing Gloucester Passage)

To go into or pass through Gloucester Passage you need to be near high tide as you can see by the chart in places it is shallow.

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(Chart of Cape Gloucester and the two anchorage areas)

The above chart shows the two anchorages, on the north of Passage Isle also known as Shag Islet is one anchorage area and is often more sheltered than the other area. Monte’s Resort is near the boat ramp in this area.

South of Passage Isle is a number of moorings that can be hired from the Cape Gloucester Eco Resort or you can anchor away from the moorings.

In both anchorages there are rocks which are indicated on this chart by dark circle with white cross. In the Monte’s Resort anchorage there is a bommie just south to southeast of the Port Marker, it is easily seen it is not far below the surface. I believe that this bommie was created from the old port marker that had been broken off prior to the new location of the marker.

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(Passage Isle – commonly known as Shag Islet)

Shag Islet is the home of one of if not the largest membership of any Cruising Yacht Club in Australia with over 6,000 members. The Shag Islet Cruising Yacht Club can be found on this address: https://www.sicyc.com.au/

This club is unique in the sense that we do not have a Commodore or a Committee, every member is a Vice Commodore and a life member after paying one membership fee which gets you a membership card and a club shirt.

This club has a rendezvous in the last weekend in August each year at this location which has been attended my 800 member and over 200 boats, some fly in to Airlie Beach and stay at one of the resorts here.

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(Copper coloured morning looking through Gloucester Passage from Monte’s anchorage)

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(Morning sunshine)

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(Shag Islet)

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(Nesting on the port marker)

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(Anchored at Gloucester Passage, Gloucester Island left side)

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(Bona Bay Beach Gloucester Island)

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(Monte’s Resort)

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(Looking out from Monte’s Resort, Alana Rose anchored, this year we arrived two weeks before the party weekend)

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(Mt Little Gloucester Island)

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(Sea Eagle with a fish)

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(21.5 metres up, re-securing the main halyard)

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(Nancy took this photo from a helicopter)

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Ken on the right and myself at the Parrot Head Party  , Ken was one of the founders of the club)

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(My Nancy and Linda at the Parrot Head Party)

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(Friends at the Pirate Party last day of the weekend)

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(The sun sets)

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(Another day in paradise)

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(Party is over time to sail north, Leigh on Mi Querida, he took 12 years to build this yacht then took 13 years sailing around the world, he is from South Australia, we met him in the Caribbean)

Whale breaching

(Whale breaching a number of times)

whales

(Whale with a calf)

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(Bowen Coast)

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(Middle Island Left, and Gloucester Island)

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(Abbots Point, ships waiting to load)

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(Cape Upstart)

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(It’s not always smooth sailing)

Heading North to Townsville and or Magnetic Island

There are a number of places to anchor on the way to Townsville or Magnetic Island, however, when we have done this trip on a few occasions we only anchor at one place on the way and that is Cape Upstart.

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(Bowen Coastline as we sail north)

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(Approaching Cape Upstart)

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(This rock formation juts out of the NW point of Cape Upstart)

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(White Topped Rock is located just around the NW point)

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(Cape Upstart anchorage)

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(Cape Upstart)

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(Cape Upstart anchorages red dots)

Cape Upstart anchorages (red dots on chart) are for different wind directions, the locations on the left of the chart are good for the usual SE trade winds that occur most times in the cruising season. However, on some occasions SW winds can kick in and these anchorages are not good so choose one of the other anchorages during these times.

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(Smokey sunset from the sugar cane burning)

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(Smoke from sugar cane burning on land opposite Cape Upstart)

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(First light after sailing from Cape Upstart)

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(Sunrise at sea is beautiful)

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(Sun block)

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(Suns up)

As I mentioned earlier that we only use one anchorage on the way to Townsville and that is Cape Upstart, so if we want to be in Townsville or anchored at Magnetic Island before dark we have to leave Cape Upstart at 0400 hours. Some sailors go to a place in between but I do not like that anchorage unless we are sure that there are little to no winds and that is Cape Bowling Green.

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(Cape Bowling Green)

Cape Bowling Green

It is easy to see where the name Cape Bowling Green came from the land is so flat and therefore offers little protection in high winds, the waters behind the sand beach areas is shallow and care needs to be taken if entering the area to anchor. Due to the shallow water if the wind strengthens wind waves appear and can be very annoying and uncomfortable. It offers no protection from winds other than east and southeast.This is the reason I bypass the place.

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(Chart showing anchorages at Cape Bowling Green)

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(Whales off Cape Bowling Green)

Whale breach
Whale dive
Whale splash

(Whales are always a special treat)

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(Cape Cleveland near Townsville)

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(Cape Cleveland lighthouse)

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(Cape Cleveland late afternoon)

When sailing north the choice you have is to go into Townsville to one of the marinas or the marina at Magnetic Island or anchor at Magnetic Island which I will cover in a later post. The Townsville Yacht Club has a very nice marina but often full.

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(Arriving at Townsville)

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(Horseshoe Bay Magnetic Island)

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(Sunset at Magnetic Island)

Townsville

This city of Townsville is like a large country town and easy to get around the city. It is a large ship working port so care should be taken when entering the area, there is a long shipping channel that extends out passed Magnetic Island. In addition they also have ferries, passenger and barge types going to and from Magnetic Island that have right of way.

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(Townsville ahead, sailing into Ross Creek)

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(Entering Ross Creek from the main harbour)

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(Chart of Townsville, red dots possible anchorages)

The chart shows Ross Creek main harbour entrance and Ross River, it is possible to anchor in Ross River (Red dots indicate anchorage), if there is room. The other area is out near Breakwater Marina, it is very shallow out there and in the deeper water there is no wind protection. If you do not wish to pay marina fees and the anchorages are undesirable the other option is to anchor out at Magnetic Island and if you need to go shopping catch the ferry back to Townsville.

There are two marinas here, the Breakwater Marina which is shown on this chart and the Townsville Yacht Club Marina in Ross Creek the rates are similar. My preference is the yacht club.

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(Townsville from Castle Hill)

The seascape from Castle Hill with Magnetic Island in the background.

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(Townsville CBD from Castle Hill)

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(Townsville’s marinas from Castle Hill)

This picture shows the main harbour left side which is also the entrance to Ross Creek, also left is the Breakwater Marina. Near right up Ross Creek is the Yacht Club Marina.

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(Ross Creek moorings and yacht club marina far left)

This picture of Ross Creek is looking up the creek from the marina our catamaran is berthed on the last finger of the marina.

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(Looking down Ross Creek from the Ross Creek Bridge, marina is around that top bend)

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(Ross Creek’s Victoria Bridge constructed 1888/89)

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(Victoria used to be a swing bridge and was a road bridge until 1975, in 1988 it became a pedestrian bridge)

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(Palmer Street intersection )

Palmer Street Townsville which is close to the Yacht Club Marina is a street of cafes, restaurants and hotels.

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(Townsville Beach from the northern end)

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(Townsville Rock Pool northern end of the beach)

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(Townsville Beach looking out at Magnetic Island)

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(Out and about in the wetlands nature reserve, magpie geese)

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(There were hundreds of these magpie geese)

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(Papuan Frogmouth owls)

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(Hibiscus Harlequin Bug)

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(Rainbow Bee Eater)

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(Townsville night lights from Ross Creek)

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(Night lights from Victoria Bridge)

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(Townsville by night and Ross Creek)

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(Night lights from Victoria Bridge)

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(Townsville by night and Ross Creek)

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(Night lights from Yacht Club Marina Ross Creek)

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(Night lights from Yacht Club Marina Ross Creek)

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(Night lights from Yacht Club Marina Ross Creek)

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(Early morning in Ross Creek)

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Magnetic Island Queensland

Magnetic Island

Affectionately known as Maggie Island it has a lot of beauty about it and a fond place for tourists and sailors. Named by Captain Cook after having some abnormal occurrence to the ships compass. Technical tests have been made in later years without result therefore it must have just have been a glitch on board Cook’s ship.

Horseshoe Bay

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(Chart of Magnetic Island, red dots anchorages)

Horseshoe Bay in the north of the island is the most popular anchorage and offers protection from most wind directions. During the sailing season the winds are predominantly southeast to southwest. However, afternoon sea breeze can come in from the northeast. Anchorages in the south or east require calm weather.

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(Horseshoe Bay)

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(Horseshoe Bay)

The island has a few good bush walks it also has a bus service that goes from one end of the island to the other at regular intervals. If anchored in Horseshoe Bay and you can catch the bus and get off wherever you need or want to go.

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(Billabong)

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(Wetlands behind the eastern side of the beach)

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(Magpie Geese in the wetlands)

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(Wetlands)

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(Horseshoe Bay Beach)

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(When the tide goes out it is out a long way)

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(Unusual sight on the beach)

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(Magnetic Island morning one of the times we were sailing north)

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(Horseshoe Bay morning sun)

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(Young Endeavour crew up the mast.)

Young Endeavour is a training ship crewed by Australian Naval personnel, they arrived in Horseshoe Bay whilst we were there.

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(Young Endeavour on the left and our Alana Rose on the right)

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(Crew members up the mast posing for the photo)

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(Up you go)

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(Part of the anchorage)

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(Noodies on the beach, great cafe, great Mexican Food)

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(Horseshoe Bay during race week, yachts racing in the background)

Picnic Bay

Picnic Bay is in the south of Magnetic Island has a great restaurant/cafe at the one end of the Picnic Bay Hotel.

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(Picnic Bay Hotel)

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(Coming over)

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(Eating at the cafe sometimes friends drop in)

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(Picnic Bay Beach)

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(Picnic Beach, lever powered boat for sale)

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(Picnic Bay with Townsville in the background)

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(Picnic Bay Jetty)

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(Bush Curlew may also visit)

Radical Bay

There is a good walk to Radical Bay from Horseshoe Bay, probably class it as a moderate level.

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(Nancy getting ready with her shoes)

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(Steps of torture there is quite a few)

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(Radical Bay, NE bay on the island)

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(Radical Bay rocks)

World War 2 Gun Placements

Townsville and Magnetic Island played a major role in the war effort, Townsville being a place where the Army has a large base and still has today. Townsville was a staging base for the Pacific side of the war effort.

We all heard about Darwin being bombed but nothing else for years until the secrets act ended then we found out that Australia was bombed over an 18 month period between Broome and Townsville. A lot more happened in Townsville that would surprise most people. For those interested here are a couple of websites.

https://www.couriermail.com.au/news/queensland/world-war-at-our-doorstep-as-townsville-almost-became-australias-pearl-harbor/news-story/df3759dd5caf7db367718f5423df2a6c

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2012-02-10/historian-reveals-details-on-townsville-mutiny/3821906

There were many gun placements in the north of Australia during the war to protect the shores, Magnetic Island was one of these places with it’s incredible views of the ocean. However, the guns were never used in anger. It was used once when an American ship entered the area without notice and did not signal it’s identity. Fortunately the first and only shot missed.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Magnetic_Battery

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(The top gun placement)

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(View from the top gun placement)

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(Command Post)

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(Command Post)

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(A place of madness)

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(The narrow tracks that personnel had to move up and down to carry out duties)

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(Nancy on one of the tracks)

All of the structures were also covered in camouflage netting so well hidden from Japanese aircraft.

You can catch the bus and there is a bus stop at the beginning of the walk, the walk will take a couple of hours minimum.

Nelly Bay and other places

I have not covered these in this post as I spent little time in these places, Nelly Bay has the marina and also where the ferry comes and goes, I must get back there some day to cover these places.

Palm Islands and Hinchinbrook Island

Palm Islands

The Palm Islands are located to the southeast of Hinchinbrook Island and north of Magnetic Island. This group consists of Great Palm Island, Curacoa Island, Fantome Island, Orpheus Island and Perolus Island.

In regard to Great Palm Island most sailors have stayed away from anchoring in that location as there has been some problems with the locals on the island, so it is best to obtain some information before going there.

Orpheus Island is probably the most popular anchorage as it offers good protection and is close to the Hinchinbrook Island and Hinchinbrook Channel. The other anchorages at Curacoa and Fantome are good anchorages and we usually use these on the way south.

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(Chart showing Palm Island Group, red dot anchorage areas)

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(Palm Island Group)

Orpheus Island also has a resort which is private not allowing yacht crews to visit, a little further north is a university research base so anchor north of that base or you can pick up one of the three blue public moorings in the bay.

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(Approach Palm Island Group plankton algae in the water)

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(Plankton Algae gets quite thick at times)

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(Each year we have visited Orpheus Island we have seen a whale with calf)

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(Little Pioneer Bay tide still going out hence location of the dinghy) 

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(Remains of the historic shepherds coral cottage ruins)

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(Little Pioneer Bay from the top hill)

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(View from the top of Orpheus Island)

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(Having a rest at the top of the climb)

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(Well the tide came in I had to get the dinghy for the ladies, hope there is no crocs visiting from Hinchinbrook Channel)

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(Alana Rose at sunset Orpheus Island)

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(Morning light at Orpheus Island friends catamaran Neriki)

Hinchinbrook Island and Channel

To enter the southern end of the Hichinbrook Channel you need to be on a rising tide as there are a few shallows and when the tide runs out it is quite forceful. Follow the leads in and the passage goes quite close to the main wharf.

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(Chart of Hinchinbrook Channel entrance)

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(Approaching Hinchinbrook Channel)

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(Start of the Channel)

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(Inside the Hinchinbrook Channel calm waters)

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(Out the back Haycock Island a known place for crocodiles, no swimming here)

Haycock Island is a good sheltered anchorage with protection from wind in any southerly areas.

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(Chart of Hinchinbrook Channel and Island)

The red dots on the chart show a few of many anchorages in the channel the southern one is Haycock Island. The two red dots on the eastern coast of the island is Zoey Bay which will be covered a little later.

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(Foggy morning in the channel)

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(Hinchinbrook Island)

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(A cloudy day in the channel)

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(Crocodile surfaces, no swimming here)

The first time we went to Hinchinbrook we stayed in the marina but unfortunately some years later Cyclone Yasi destroyed the marina and it has not been rebuilt and may never be. Who knows one day something could come of it as the place is beautiful.

Marina

(Hinchinbrook marina before and after Cyclone Yasi)

Cardwell the nearby town has a very long main street and shopping on foot can be difficult as the main shops require a quite some metres between. We planned our shopping furthest shop first, I think was the butcher, then walking back the supermarket and finally the hotel for beer and wine, the important stuff, we were then going to catch a taxi but the publican insisted to run us back to the marina in the courtesy bus.

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(Cardwell main street)

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(Mobile coffee shop)

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(Hinchinbrook sunset)

One thing we do not like doing is staying too long in marinas, it gets expensive and we prefer to be anchored out with great views. The weather was going to turn bad with 30 plus knot winds for some days, so I needed to know where we could go that would be a good sheltered anchorage and nice views. I asked one of the charter boat companies and they gave me the mud map (Australian term for a rough drawing of a map, early days people on land would draw the route in the dirt with a stick), to get to a great spot. Never be afraid to ask about local knowledge.

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(The mud map)

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(The chart showing the nine creeks)

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(Mt Bowen Hinchinbrook Island from Missionary Bay)

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(Creek No 7)

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(Creek No 7 off Missionary Bay)

There are nine creeks and they are number 1 to 9 starting from the northern creek we were heading for Creek No 8 but you have to enter Creek No 7  and cross over to Creek No 8.

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(Morning sun in Creek No 8 were we are anchored)

Winds outside of the creeks is 30 knots from the southeast there is barely a breeze in the creek.

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(Tourist boat goes by, there is a boardwalk at the end of this creek)

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(Sunset in Creek No 8)

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Zoey Bay, Hinchinbrook Island

To visit Zoey Bay you need light to no winds as this bay is on the east coast of the island and has little protection. The other item that you must be aware of is that the afternoon usually brings a NE sea breeze so select the anchorage carefully. It is possible for a day visit then head back up to sheltered bays north end of the island or go across to Orpheus Island.

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(Approaching Zoey Bay)

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(Zoey Bay swimming hole and waterfall)

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(Nancy at the base of the waterfall)

As you can see by these two photos that it is a place to visit.

The following is a comment that was made on my copy of this in a post on Facebook

Forgot to mention you can anchor in the creek at Zoe bay which is very protected . Dungeness is a spot to get water fuel and basics. Just across the channel from there is Bluff creek which is a good (if not small) anchorage which is very protected. Hecate point at the top is a surprisingly good spot but there will be a lot of boats around as it is a very popular fishing spot. Cardwell jetty is accessable at high water for fresh water and fuel can be trucked in. It provides for your shopping needs by walking across the road. The marina has fuel by appointment at the pontoon beside the ramp but be prepared for a silted entrance.
The security issues at Palm island were a problem some years ago but I have not heard of any issues recently. We just spent several nights anchored near the end of the airport runway which was very comfortable and saw a few of the locals fishing who were very friendly. I wouldnt leave my dinghy and go for a walk without permission though …Curacao island has an amazing reef wall on its NW face but deep anchoring (about 20m) SW land breezes plagued us throughout our stay in the palm group but it is spectacular Comments made by Ken Allen

Dunk Island and Mourilyan Harbour

Dunk Island

Dunk Island is another island that has been devastated by cyclones over the past number of years. Probably fond memories by many who had holidays and honeymoons on this lovely island along with many sailors that visited the island.

The previous owner sold the resort in a damaged state after being hit by two cyclones within five years, insurance was difficult to get or afford after this. Cyclone Larry hit in 2006 and this was followed by Cyclone Yasi in 2011.

Today the resort is still closed as far as guests, the new owner in my last visit in 2012 had it as a private place where he would invite family and friends. Since then a Licenced Cafe has been reopened near the jetty and is open Friday to Sunday, public holidays or for organised functions. The island is a National Park and well worth a visit.

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(Dunk Island Beach and Anchorage 2010 before Cyclone Yasi)

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(This tells the story, fortunately vegetation regrows quickly)

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(Chart of Dunk Island red dots anchorage areas)

Dunk Island is situated off the coast of Mission Beach and Tully, north of Hinchinbrook and south of Cairns.

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(Southern end of Dunk Island)

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(View from Mt Kootaloo)

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(Looking down from the walk of Mt Kootaloo 2011)

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(Cyclone damage to the resort 2011)

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(This sand was removed from the buildings windows were broken and sand came in)

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(Damaged buildings they were sand blasted plaster and paint removed)

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(Sunset over the mainland from Dunk Island)

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(Sunset at Dunk Island)

Mourilyan Harbour

Mourilyan Harbour is just north of Dunk Island and is a main port for shipping export livestock, malasses, raw sugar and medium bulk cargo. It is a well protected harbour on the Moresby River. Other than the turning area for ships and the entrance the rest of the area is quite shallow and care should be taken choosing an anchorage. There are a number of private moorings and pole moorings. These are used by fishing vessels mainly.

When selecting a place to anchor stay out of the turning circle as ships arrive all hours and can be in the middle of the night. The harbour entrance is quite deep and can be entered during moderate seas.

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(Chart of Mourilyan Harbour)

Chart of Mourilyan Harbour yellow markers showing the edge of the turning circle for that large ships, black dots are the pole moorings, it is possible to pass between these and any boats on them to find an anchorage, we used to try and anchor just on the outside of the turning circle.

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(Ship entering the harbour)

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(Panoramic view of Mourilyan Harbour)

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(Panoramic view from ashore)

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(Mourilyan Harbour twilight)

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(Mourilyan Harbour moon light and dock lights)

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(Wine time with harbour lights)

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(Early morning friends boat ‘Restless M’ on the right)

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(Army landing craft leaving the harbour)

Fitzroy Island and Cairns

Fitzroy Island

Fitzroy Island is about 3 hours sail out of Cairns about 2 nautical miles off the mainland near Cape Grafton, it has a 5 star resort and also a day bar where you can have meal and also a backpackers lodge.

Many day visitors arrive daily on a motor catamaran being a 45 minute trip from Cairns. The island has some nice beach areas and a few walks. As far as yachts it is a nice anchorage, it offers good protection from southeast winds, however, in strong winds the anchorage can become uncomfortable.

If sailing to Cairns from here in windy conditions it is advisable to reef the sails down prior to rounding Cape Grafton, winds bullet around and off the Cape.

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(Fitzroy Island anchorage, mainland in the background)

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(Chart of Fitzroy Island, red dots anchorage areas)

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(Fitzroy Island)

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(Coral Beach Fitzroy Island)

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(View of the mainland from Nudy Beach)

Nudy Beach is a short walk from the anchorage beach area and yes you may see some topless bathing in this area.

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(Small section of Nudy Beach)

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(Nudy Beach area)

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(Disused lighthouse track)

The old lighthouse that used to be manned is no longer in service, it has been replaced by an automatic light on Little Fitzroy Island on the north end of this island. The original lighthouse keeper constructed this road out of concrete with a small cement mixer towed by an old Land Rover.

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(View from the lookout on the Lighthouse walk)

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(A well loaded ship passes in the north shipping channel)

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(Sunset over the mainland)

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(Sunset run)

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(End of the day)

Cairns

Cairns is a high tourist place being close to the Great Barrier Reef with many coral cays close by attracts divers and the fishing charter boats being very active and the Marlin Fishing Season. I am against Marlin fishing as the season begins when the female is spawning. These fish have to fight for a long time before being hauled in and although it is catch, tag and release I have been told that very few tagged Marlin are re-caught. I believe once caught and released they actually become shark bait and that is why few are re-caught.

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(Cairns, this is the view as you enter Trinity Inlet)

Trinity Inlet is the Cairns harbour entrance, lead lights guide you in being the Red/White/Green lead lights which is located on the long white building left of centre in the above picture. The entrance is around 5 Nms and shallows to the sides of the channel.

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(Chart of Cairns, red dots anchorage areas)

The choice you have in Cairns is the marina shown above or there area two marinas north at Yorkey’s Knob. If anchoring try and find an anchorage south of the marinas entrance, the reason is there are a large amount of tourist boats that come and go daily and they do not go slow, if north of the marina entrance you will rock and roll all day.

If staying at Yorkey’s Knob there is a bus service into Cairns and there is a post office and small supermarket not too far from the marinas.

Anchoring here can have some problems as the area used to be pole moorings and there is still some remains on the bottom so snags can had on the anchor, the bottom is also very silty so make sure the anchor is solid and put out more than normal chain. It may be possible to pick up a pole mooring check with the port office in the marina area. You can also pay a small fee to use the dinghy dock and use amenities in the marina complex.

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(Pole moorings and anchorage areas)

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(Chart showing anchorages between Fitzroy Island and Cairns)

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(Cairns waterfront from near the marina)

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(Plenty of cafes/restaurants around the streets)

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(The swimming lake)

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(The park by the lake is backpackers haven)

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(The lake early morning)

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(Easy life in Cairns)

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(HMAS Bundaberg enters port)

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(The ‘Duyfken, replica of the original Dutch Ship built in 1895)

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(Duyfken  replica was built by volunteers in Fremantle Western Australia)

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(Port of Cairns from the anchorage)

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(Cairns Naval Base)

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(Cairns at night, the tide going out)

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(Reflections in the marina)

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(Harbour lights from the anchorage)